FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 1995-410
William Aman, Mayor of South
Windsor and Town of South
Respondents September 11, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 9, 1996, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 1996-021, Kathryn Hale v. Tax Collector, Town of South Windsor and Northeast Business Services, Inc., as Tax Collector, Town of South Windsor, was consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing. The records at issue were reviewed in camera following the hearing into this matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. Public Act No. 95-228, section 12, provides in relevant part:
The secretary of the office of policy and management shall establish a pilot program, for the fiscal years commencing July 1, 1994, July 1, 1995, and July 1, 1996, in the town of South Windsor for the purpose of improving the tax collection capabilities of the town. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes or regulations adopted thereunder, the town of South Windsor is authorized for the period of the pilot
Docket #FIC 1995-410 Page 2
program, to employ a third-party, acting under the direction of the town manager, to collect current and delinquent property taxes, interest and fees….
3. It is found that the town entered into a tax collection agreement with Northeast Business Services, Inc., (“NBS”), whereby NBS was appointed to serve as the respondent town’s tax collector (hereinafter "agreement").
4. It is found that by letter of request dated November 16, 1995, the complainant requested that the respondent mayor provide her with a copy of “any documents” submitted to the respondent town by NBS in accordance with section 9 of the agreement, (hereinafter “requested records”).
5. Having failed to receive access to the requested records the complainant, by letter of complaint dated December 12, 1995 and filed with the Commission on December 13, 1995, alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying her access to the requested records. The complainant requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondent town.
6. Section 9 of the agreement provides that:
(a) NBS shall submit its current year-end financial statement in the form of an independent audit which shall be prepared by a CPA licensed in the State of Connecticut. Said financial statement shall be submitted to the town on a timely basis each year during the term of this Agreement.
(b) The Town, through the Town Manager and/or his/her designee, reserve the right to inspect and audit any and all tapes, books or other records of the Tax Collector and/or NBS as Tax Collector for the Town upon reasonable notice and at reasonable times.
7. It is found that the respondents had NBS’s unaudited financial statements at the time of the complainant’s request and received NBS’s audited financial statements on January 16, 1996.
Docket #FIC 1995-410 Page 3
8. It is concluded that the unaudited and audited financial statements described in paragraph 7, above, are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.
10. Section 1-19(b)(5), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of “commercial or financial information given in confidence, not required by statute.”
11. It is found that the financial statements (unaudited and audited) are commercial or financial information within the meaning of §1-19(b)(5), G.S.
12. It is found that NBS submitted the unaudited and audited financial statements to the respondents in confidence and the commission is unaware of any statute requiring the information.
13. It is therefore concluded that the unaudited and audited financial statements are permissively exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(5), G.S.
14. It is further concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., when they failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the unaudited and audited financial statements.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed.
2. This decision should not be construed to mean that any records of NBS or the respondents concerning NBS’s duties and compensation and any records of tax revenue, not otherwise exempt from disclosure, shall be deemed confidential.
Docket #FIC 1995-410 Page 4
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information
Commission at its regular meeting of
September 11, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket # FIC 1995-410 Page 4
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
174 Woodland Drive
South Windsor, CT 06074
William Aman, Mayor of South Windsor and Town of South Windsor
c/o John Howard, Esq.
Melon, Fitzgerald & Wood, P.C.
773 Main Street
Manchester, CT 06040
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission